Small Steps, Big Change: Pantry, Fridge and Freezer Challenge

So last month I told you about the Keeping It Real Tour and each month I’ll be focusing on a different “theme”. February’s theme is all about saving money on our grocery budgets and what better way to kick that off than with a little Pantry Fridge and Freezer Challenge? I like challenges because they help me maintain focus a little bit more easily. Other bloggers have issued Pantry Challenges over the years but I’m taking it a bit further and including my freezer and refrigerator since my pantry has a lot of basic ingredients that I’m not necessarily wanting to use up (like different flours, whole wheat pastas, a few different kinds of rice, etc.)

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got the rogue cans of diced tomatoes and chickpeas that I bought too many of or ended up not using for a recipe. I also receive a lot of samples for some of my blogging–which is a good thing–but sometimes I don’t always remember to use them all up! And I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but I tend to get a little ambitious about my holiday baking and cooking plans and those plans don’t always match up with my available time. Consequently, I’ve got some ingredients leftover or thrown into the freezer that need to be used up. And the freezer. Well, despite my best efforts to keep my freezer organized, I still can’t pass up a good bargain and will buy something on sale to use later. Like the two packages of ground sausage that I’m using in this week’s menu plan. There’s a whole lot more in there and I think to myself, “I’ll just use that later.” But later comes and goes, and those things sit in the freezer unused! Now, the fridge you may be asking, why would I have so much in there that I need to focus on using things up? Well, you’re right. I don’t have a TON! But I do know I’ve got some anchovy paste from an old Caesar chicken marinade recipe that we like that probably needs to be used up and also some raspberry jam that I bought to use with some cut-out holiday cookies. Not major, but still in there!

Here’s The Challenge:

Starting today, February 11th through March 11, try to use up what you’ve got and buy a little less than normal at the grocery store. I’m not going to put a value on what your goal should be because everyone’s family size is different as are your budgets and appetites. Even where you live can make a difference on how much groceries will cost. But what I’m going to do for myself is figure out a dollar amount that I want to save and that works for us. So that might mean $5 less one week, maybe $15 the next and maybe $35 the final week. I know those may sound like small amounts to some of you, but it’s about taking small steps toward big change. Not only will you have more change in your pockets (yes, pun intended!), but I bet you’ll find that those small steps will make a difference towards the changes you can make in your overall meal planning and future grocery shopping.

How To Join The Challenge:

1. Decide how much money you want to save and how long you think you’ll want to do the challenge. I’ll be doing it all four weeks so you can join in every week or just as your schedule allows.
2. Make an inventory of your freezer, fridge and pantry. You can find some tips on how to get started by reading ideas from this blog post.
3. Make a meal plan for each week you plan to do the challenge. You can find tips on how to get started meal planning by reading this blog post.
4. Make your grocery list and focus on trying to buy just fresh ingredients (like milk, fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc.)
5. Each week I’ll be posting my progress and I encourage you all to leave your comments on how you’re doing. We can all learn something from each other! And if you’re a blogger, you can link up your blog post about the Challenge so that we can all get more ideas of how to save money on our grocery bill!

So who’s with me? How do you think you’ll accomplish this task? Share your ideas in the comments below because if you’re thinking it, someone else probably can benefit from hearing it!